Green Bay Packers ‘Drop the Ball’ in Buffalo
By Jamie Wright
It was a demoralizing defeat for the Green Bay Packers staunch offense.
The Packers were favorites to win in Buffalo against the fifth-ranked NFL defense, posting first overall numbers against the pass.
No one believed that the Bills could suffocate Aaron Rodgers like they have done to so many other quarterbacks this season. No, the Green Bay Packers were all set to come in to a hostile environment and take a potential playoff spot, like taking candy from a baby.
Randall Cobb is tackled by Buffalo Bills defensive back Mario Butler (30) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beat Green Bay 21-13. Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Though [even with a Packers’ win], Dallas’s win last night against the Eagles would have delayed the Packers’ playoff clinch – the Packers still had pride and momentum for which to play.
The Packers defense was coming off one of its worst second half performances of the year against Matty Ice, Julio Jones and the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night; they had something to prove.
For four quarters, they did so.
The Packers defense stymied a Kyle Orton-led offense and held him to under 150 passing yards, even with dynamic playmaker, Sammy Watkins, waiting to change the game.
With such little production from Orton, the Bills turned to their workhorse, Fred Jackson, to carry the load. He did what was necessary to get the Bills in field goal position multiple times, though the Bills were never able to finish a drive with a touchdown (save for the punt return that was taken back for one in the first quarter).
The defense had an encouraging day.
They were able to make key stops, get off the field, get the ball back for their offense (however unproductive it was), and keep the team in a position to come back and win the game, up until the 2-minute warning.
Dom Capers put together a solid defensive scheme and his players executed very well on Sunday, giving Packers faithful the breath of fresh air they needed from that stink fest just six days prior.
On the other side of the ball – the offensive juggernaut, the unstoppable force that is Aaron Rodgers and Company – “dropped the ball” … literally.
Not only did the Packers offense “drop the ball” against the Bills on Sunday, they dropped the ball seven times.
If it wasn’t Andrew Quarless, it was Richard Rodgers. If it wasn’t Rodgers, it was Starks. If not Starks, Cobb. From Cobb to Adams and from Adams to … what? Jordy Nelson? Mr. Sure Hands himself literally dropped a 94-yard walk-in touchdown that could have changed the game for the Packers.
Buffalo Bills cornerback Corey Graham (20) dives to break up a pass intended for Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports photograph
It’s hard to speculate on things like that but … a touchdown there would have given the Packers the lead and probably would have changed the outcome of the game.
Rodgers and his receivers looked off kilter from the very first pass. Rodgers was expecting receivers to sit down on routes that they ended up over-running. He looked to miss on 4 or 5 early back-shoulder passes. He was just plain off on some throws.
Rodgers looked unsettled early. His protection was good. He was flushed from the pocket a couple of times because the pocket naturally collapses after 8 seconds of sustained play.
The receivers weren’t uncovering down the field and the offensive line was paying the price for it. Rodgers was able to escape the pressure with his legs for big gains, but his normal flush-out-great pass-and-catch-on the run playmaking ability was gone.
Rodgers threw his first ill-advised pass of the season that was picked off. Another dropped and tipped pass led to a second interception and the comeback drive (starting deep in the Packers own territory) was thwarted because of a strip/fumble that resulted in a safety.
Eddie Lacy celebrates his first half touchdown against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports photograph
Most of the game looked like a bunch of rag-a-muffins playing pitch and catch for the very first time. I felt like circus music should have been pumping through the loudspeakers every time the offense walked out onto the field.
For such a vaunted passing attack, the Packers didn’t instill fear in anyone on Sunday afternoon.
The only bright spot was an injured Eddie Lacy would find a way to contribute more than 100 yards from scrimmage again, on just 22 carries.
He was averaging better than 6 yards per-carry in the second half, though his work load was not increased because of poor passing play.
Could a healthy dose of Lacy pulled another defender into the box and opened up the passing lanes, had the attempt been made?
Yes, I think it might have.
However, the Packers play-callers stuck with the pass, and leaned on the run as merely a supplement.
Whereas the Bills game gave the Packers a chance to clinch a playoff berth, a loss this week just puts more pressure on the next two.
The Packers now travel to Tampa to take on a Bucs team that has been floundering, though it is now head coached by Lovie Smith, a guy who knows the Packers very well from his time spent in Chicago.
He may have a word or two to share with his team as the Bucs look to play spoilers to the Packers, who need to win out to even be in the playoff hunt come January.